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FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED

FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES


FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF
ADVANCED FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES
Simone Ragionieri
SmartCAE, Italy
David Weinberg
Noran Engineering Inc., USA

1 Summary
The need for high performance-to-weight ratio structures coming from the
most advanced engineering fields is the main driver of the increasing usage of
composite materials for critical applications. In order to design light and safe
systems on time to meet the market requirements, accurate and effective
analysis tools are necessary.
NASA has recently developed LaRC02, a set of first-ply-failure criteria for
composites which have been shown to be accurate and physically consistent.
The LaRC02 formulation seemed to be particularly well suited for design
purposes, due to its optimal trade-off between accuracy, material
characterization requirements, computational effort and ease of results
interpretation.
The present work describes with some insights the LaRC02 criterion
features and its implementation into NEiNastran, a commercial finite element
software package. The accuracy and usefulness of the method are shown
through some application examples, ranging from simple validation cases to a
real-world structure.
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES

2 Introduction
The application of composite materials for mission-critical structures is
becoming more and more common in advanced aerospace and automotive
designs. However, the composites failure criteria currently available within
most commercial finite element packages suffer from limitations concerning
accuracy, range of application and/or ease of results interpretation.
In recent years, several interesting investigations have been published in
regards to a general procedure for stress assessment of structures made up of
composite materials under multiaxial stress states. These studies are still an
open issue for engineering, since experimental testing of the physical
components is typically required for final validation.
By consequence, more room was made for improving the current analysis
tools, which is the aim of the work described in this paper.
After a thorough review of various composite failure theories, a set of
criteria recently developed by NASA, and called LaRC02, was selected as the
best candidate, since it satisfies the requirements which were judged as
mandatory for effective use in a typical CAE department for every day work:
(a) have a reasonable accuracy for the broadest possible class of stress field
scenarios.
(b) provide decision-making feedback to the engineer, by giving
information about why a structure may fail, thus enabling efficiency
and awareness in improving modifications.
(c) use material data which is as easy as possible to measure
experimentally or find in an existing database, avoiding the need for
specific testing / data fitting.
(d) have the highest possible numerical efficiency within an FE code,
considering that models with more than 1 million of DOF are now quite
common.
A short description of the theoretical background of the LaRC02 criteria, its
interesting practical features and field of application is provided in the next
section. Then some details of the LaRC02 criteria implementation in the
NEiNastran commercial package are given, and a couple of validation cases are
shown. Finally, an application of the LaRC02 criteria on an actual mechanical
component is discussed.
3 Background
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES
The main difficulties underlying the development of a comprehensive
failure theory for composites are their intrinsic anisotropy and the existence of
multiple failure modes, i.e. how the material fails at the micromechanical, ply
and laminate level.
The classical criteria implemented in most commercial FE codes
(maximum stress or strain, Hill, Hoffman, Tsai-Wu) are not able to physically
capture the failure mode. Some of them cannot deal with materials having a
different strength in tension and compression.
On the other hand, most recent failure theories for composites require
peculiar material characterization in order to deduce the material data needed.
In addition, as it was demonstrated during the World Wide Failure Exercise
(WWFE) [1], a single criterion capable of predicting the failure accurately,
even of a simple laminate under general load combinations and with no use of
very specific empirical data, is not available yet.
The LaRC02 approach was thought to overcome, or at least reduce, the
limitations mentioned above. Instead of a single failure formulation, a set of
failure criteria was proposed, each correlated to a specific load combination.
Some of those criteria are already known, while new formulations have been
produced for particular stress states.
LaRC02 is a first ply failure (FPF) set of criteria, and can deal with
laminates made of unidirectional plies, in a plane stress state.
LaRC02 produces four distinct failure indices, related to different failure
modes: matrix cracking under tension (FI-MT) or compression (FI-MC) and
fiber failure for tensile (FI-FT) or compressive (FI-FC) loadings. Each failure
index is calculated using different theories depending on the stress state.
3.1 Matrix Cracking Failure Index
In the case of tensile loading along the matrix direction, the failure index
FI-MT is calculated by using the well known Hashin theory [2], which has
been shown to be particularly accurate for this specific loading condition, even
when the interaction between matrix tension and in-plane shear makes the
stress state biaxial.
In the case of compressive loading along the matrix direction, LaRC02
proposes a new theory for calculating the first-ply-failure, which was derived
as an extension of the Hashin criterion mentioned above and the Pucks action
plane [3] concept.
The mathematical details of the LaRC02 procedure can be found in [4].
The main physical assumptions and findings behind it are as follows:
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES
(a) the beneficial influence of transverse compression on matrix shear
strength is accounted for by increasing the shear strength by a term
proportional to the normal stress
n
acting at the fracture plane shown
in Figure 1 (Pucks action plane concept);
(b) the FI-MC is calculated by: i. first applying the Mohr-Coulomb [5]
criterion along each possible fracture plane, in order to compute the
shearing stresses acting on it, then ii. calculating the failure index on
each plane by assuming a quadratic interaction between
L
and
T
(see
Figure 1), and finally iii. taking the maximum value of the computed
failure index as FI-MC. Therefore, the actual fracture plane is found as
the plane which maximizes the failure index versus the fracture plane
orientation angle;
(c) the matrix cracking fracture plane under matrix compression alone
(pure transverse compression) is supposed to be the plane with =
0
=
53, according to experimental results made on several graphite-epoxy
composites [3].

Figure 1: Fracture of a unidirectional lamina subjected to transverse compression
and shear.
The assumptions mentioned above made possible to compute the FI-MC
without additional empirical parameters with respect to the set of in-plane
material strengths.
3.2 Fiber Failure Index
In the case of tensile loading along the fiber direction, the FI-FT is
calculated by using the (uniaxial) maximum allowable strain criterion.
Under fiber compression, the LaRC02 assumes that the failure mode is the
fiber buckling occurring as shear deformation which leads to the formation of a
kink band (see in Figure 2), driven by the damage of the supporting matrix.
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES

Figure 2: Fiber compression kink band.
The fiber kinking failure mode is based on the assumption of a local initial
fiber misalignment , which leads to shear stresses between fibers that rotate
the fibers themselves, increasing the shearing stress until an instability arises.
Basically, the fiber failure under compression is evaluated as matrix failure
in the rotated (kinked) reference system, where the stresses
m
11
and
m
22
act
(see Figure 2 again). Therefore, the FI-FC is computed by two different
formulations depending on whether the rotated matrix stress
m
22
is tensile or
compressive, following the same concept shown above for matrix failure
calculation (same as for FI-MC / FI-MT).
4 FE Implementation
The LaRC02 set of criteria was implemented into NEiNastran [5], a
commercial FE code developed by Noran Engineering, Inc. (USA).
As already stated, one of the useful features of the LaRC02 criteria is that
they dont require additional material properties compared to classical
multiaxial criteria like, for example, Hoffman or Tsai-Wu [7], already covered
by NEiNastran. For this reason, from the input user interface point of view, the
only change to the code was adding LaRC02 to the available failure criteria
selection list.
The calculation phase of the failure indices is somewhat longer with
LaRC02 compared to classical closed-form criteria. This is due to two reasons:
a) more than one failure index are computed, b) for compressive loadings, the
FI-MC and FI-FC have to be calculated as the maximum of a function (failure
index versus fracture plane angle) and not as direct results of an expression.
When benchmarking the FE implementation, a negligible 5% increase of
calculation time for a 120.000 elements / 80 plies FE model has been found, so
that the usability of the LaRC02 formulation in real world applications was
definitely concluded.
As for the output, since LaRC02 generates multiple failure indices for each
finite element (matrix / fiber, tension/ compression), additional vector results
need to be defined.
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES
As it will be shown in the next section, getting distinct failure indices for
each failure mode is, by the FE analyst standpoint, one of the most valuable
aspects of using LaRC02, because it enables a fast and knowledgeable
interpretation of the possible reasons why the composite may fail and of the
structural improvements needed.
5 Validation
Two test cases were selected for the validation of the FE procedure.
In Figure 3 and Figure 4 the comparison between experimental data,
original NASA LaRC02 theory, and the NEiNastran numerical implementation
of LaRC02 criteria is shown.
Figure 3 shows results for an unidirectional laminate made of E-
glass/epoxy plies loaded biaxially. The failure envelope provided by the
LaRC02 criteria is reasonably accurate within the plane [
22
-
12
].
Figure 4 shows results for a series of [] angle-ply laminates made of
carbon/epoxy layers loaded in compression. The strength prediction provided
by the LaRC02 criteria stays very accurate when varying the lamination angle
from 0 (load aligned with fiber direction) to 90 (load along the matrix
direction).
In both cases, the NEiNastran numerical results are practically coincident
with those given by the analytical LaRC02 formulation.
0.0
20.0
40.0
60.0
80.0
100.0
-160 -140 -120 -100 -80 -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60
22 [MPa]

1
2

[
M
P
a
]
WWFE test NASA LaRC02 NEiNastran LaRC02

Figure 3: Failure envelopes and WWFE test data [1] for unidirectional composite E-
Glass/LY556.
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Lamination angle []
C
o
m
p
r
e
s
s
i
v
e

s
t
r
e
n
g
t
h

[
M
P
a
]
Test Strength Nasa LaRC02 NEiNastran LaRC02

Figure 4: Compressive strength as a function of ply orientation for []s AS4/3502
laminates [4].
6 Application Example
For illustrative purposes, an application example is described in this
section.
The component under analysis is a racing car front wing (courtesy of
Minardi F1 Team), under aerodynamic loadings (see Figure 5). Due to the
nature of the loads and the cantilever-type constraint set, the structure is mainly
solicited by bending and, secondly, by torsion.
The local effects due to notches and stiffness changes (local reinforcements
and changes in the lamination / thickness) made the stress field very complex
and intrinsically multiaxial.

Figure 5: Application case: Racing car front wing (courtesy of Minardi F1 Team). FE
model.
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES
In Figure 6 the LaRC02 failure index envelope contour plot is depicted. For
each finite element, the maximum between FI-FT, FI-FC, FI-MT and FI-MC
through the laminate is plotted. This is the classical way the failure index is
post-processed, i.e. assuming that it is a single valued quantity.

a)
b)
Figure 6: Application case: Racing car front wing (courtesy of Minardi F1 Team).
Maximum Failure Index Envelope (a) Top view, (b) Bottom view.
In Figure 7 and Figure 8, the fiber failure indices for compressive and
tensile stresses respectively are shown, while Figure 9 and Figure 10 represent
the compressive and tensile matrix failure indices.
By comparison with Figure 6 it can be seen that the failure mode varies
throughout the structure, but it is generally associated with fiber failure under
compression (Figure 7) on the lower surface of the wing, while the upper
surface is prone to the matrix tensile cracking failure mode (Figure 10).
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES

Figure 7: Application case: Racing car front wing (courtesy of Minardi F1 Team).
Fiber Failure Index Compression (FI-FC).

Figure 8: Application case: Racing Car front wing (courtesy of Minardi F1 Team).
Fiber Failure Index Tension (FI-FT).
It can also be seen (Figure 9) that in some particular areas of the structure
the matrix compression failure mode is prevailing.
Finally, due to the loading type, and to the difference between tensile and
compressive strength of the adopted materials, the fiber tensile failure mode is
in general the less probable to occur (Figure 8).
Based on these observations, which are made straightforward by the
peculiar LaRC02 approach, a direct and clear input for the engineer about how
to improve the strength of the structure may be derived.
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES

Figure 9: Application case: Racing car front wing (courtesy of Minardi F1 Team).
Matrix Failure Index Compression (FI-MC).

Figure 10: Application case: Racing car front wing (courtesy of Minardi F1 Team).
Matrix Failure Index Tension (FI-MT).
7 Conclusions
LaRC02, a recent set of failure criteria for laminates made of unidirectional
plies under plane stress conditions which has demonstrated to be accurate and
to give useful design information, has been implemented into NEiNastran, a
commercial finite element code.
The numerical implementation of LaRC02 has been validated by using test
data and analytical LaRC02 computations.
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES
By applying the LaRC02 criterion to a real-world application, its usefulness
has been shown in tracking the failure mode on a structure, thus providing
physically based indications to the engineer about how the component is
loaded locally. This information turns out to be necessary for the improvement
of the strength of the composite part, and it is not based on trial-and-error
methods.
FINITE ELEMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF ADVANCED
FAILURE CRITERIA FOR COMPOSITES
References
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predictive capabilities of current failure theories for composite laminates,
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of Applied Mechanics, Vol. 47, pp. 329-334, 1980
3. PUCK, A, SHURMANN, H Failure analysis of FRP laminates by
means of physically based phenomenological models. Composites
Science and Technology, Vol. 58, No. 7, pp. 1045-1067, 1998
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laminates in plane stress. AIAA 2003-1991; Presented at 44th
AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and
Materials Conference, Norfolk, Virginia, April 7-10, 2003
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Engineering Inc., Westminster, USA, 2004
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Thermoelasticity, Springer, Berlin, New York, 2001
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